The Student Movement


Community Engagement Initiative Celebrates Third Year

Scott Moncrieff

Photo by Scott Moncrieff

“It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as the job gets done,” said U.S. representative Fred Upton, as part of his keynote remarks at the third annual Celebration of Community Engagement. The event happened Thursday evening, October 20, at Newbold Auditorium, with an estimated crowd of about 150 hearing about many ways in which the Andrews University community is engaging with the domestic and international community beyond its campus borders.

There were musical interludes, videos, brief speeches, and two brief keynote addresses. Among local projects described were Change Day, a program for adult literacy, prepping adults to take the high school equivalency test, and a lifestyle medicine clinic.

Projects that took AU participants farther afield included senior nursing students working with Pathways to Health in Indianapolis; the International Center for Trauma Education & Care working with youth refugees; Care for Cuba; a program from International Development in sponsoring orphans and providing food relief in Madagascar; an Enactus (business majors) group promoting E-commerce for international artists, whose income was greatly reduced by Covid’s impact on tourism; and an Architecture program which has been working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. According to Elijah Shin (graduate, architecture), “before we visited Lebanon, the work in [my class] was just another academic assignment. But after visiting with the people, seeing their conditions first-hand and getting to know them, the work is now very personal. Now I am truly motivated to invest myself in this project because I know it will uplift the locals and refugees we worked with.”

As part of the Thursday night program, Willis J. Byas, an MDiv/MSW clinical intern, was awarded $1000 for his work in community engagement (as part of the International Center for Trauma Education & Care).

Professor Sung Kwon, Director of the new MA in Leadership in Social Innovation, gave the second keynote address. As part of his brief talk he pointed to the story of Lazarus’s resurrection, when Lazarus comes out of the tomb all bandaged up, Jesus tells bystanders to “unbind him and let him go.” He told the audience that it is our job to “help remove that which is binding people, whatever makes them stumble, whatever is keeping them from flourishing in the life God intends for them.”

According to Paulette Johnson, Dean of Libraries and Director of Community Engagement, the program was meant “to emphasize the connection between classroom learning and mutually beneficial problem-solving in communities near and far.” Johnson adds that the participation of various entities on campus “highlights the university’s mission of engaging with various communities to address real needs that have measurable outcomes.” She hopes that “the exposure gained from the Celebration of Community Engagement will be a catalyst for additional and sustained community engagement initiatives.”

Gloria Oh (senior, biology), attended the event and has been participating in community service herself. “The reason I started volunteering in the Andrews Adult ESL/GED Program,” said Oh, “was because I wanted to see people making an active difference in their own life. English is an essential tool to make that happen in the United States, so I found this program very important. The volunteer group of this specific program is pretty small, so it was very encouraging [at Thursday night’s celebration] to see people who share similar values gathered up in the auditorium to talk about more effective ways we can provide useful tools and abilities, such as adequate education for those who do not have it yet.”

Professor Fernando Ortiz, who is Director of the Master of Divinity program at the seminary, has been leading out in the Care for Cuba program for a number of years. He said the community engagement night was “informative and inspirational” as it documented “how different departments at Andrews are engaged in health, adult education, missions and more.” “Simply put,” said Ortiz, “this is what Andrews is all about.”

Provost Christon Arthur, quoting Martin Luther King Jr., summed up the purpose of the evening: “Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.